Look for smartphones, laptops, netbooks and other devices where the carrier or manufacturer can configure and update them remotely over a wired or cellular internet connection. There are plenty of companies--such as InnoPath and Microsoft--that sit behind the scenes to enable these services, but small businesses generally get them from carriers and vendors.
These services can preload a new laptop or smartphone with software so it's ready to go out of the box instead of requiring you or your employees to spend hours on set-up. They also can automatically push out patches and other software updates instead of requiring employees to bring in their devices.
Minimize Your Phone Bill
Look for telephone providers that offer hosted PBX solutions that can be extended to your employees' mobile phones, enabling PBX features such as extension dialing when they're out of the office. Examples include Verizon's PBX Mobile Extension and AT&T Mobile Extension.
Review and Edit on the Go
If the manufacturer or wireless carrier didn't already include it in your smartphone, look for apps that let you view and edit files in common formats such as .doc, .pdf and .ppt. Examples include DataViz' Documents to Go, Cerience's RepliGo Professional and Byte2's Office2. Although they won't let you replace your PC with a smartphone for these tasks, they're still a useful way to work on things that are urgent or while you're waiting in line.
Stop Playing Phone Tag
Check out Google Voice and similar services--some from telcos--that ring multiple phones simultaneously. That boosts productivity by, for example, eliminating the phone tag of calling a colleague's desk phone and then her cell phone. Bonus: Cell phone bills can be lower because you now won't try her cell phone first in hopes of reaching her immediately.
Stop Hunting Down Employees
Need to know where your vehicles, equipment and other assets are at all times? Use an app such as Xora's eTrace to track their whereabouts from your smartphone or computer instead of wasting time and money calling around town. When picking an app, don't overlook consumer-oriented offerings, such as Sprint's Family Locator, which can be a good, inexpensive (around $5 per month per phone) fit for some small businesses.
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